The American Revolution
Causes of the Revolution
The end of the French and Indian War resulted in the final expulsion of France both from the continent of North America and from India. In both cases French power was replaced by that of Great Britain. Britain was thus left victorious in both hemispheres, supreme on the high seas, and secure against invasion. It also possessed an enormous and growing volume of maritime commerce.
Britain’s king George III, had recently succeeded to the throne, in 1760. Unlike his Hannoverian predecessors, the third George was determined to establish personal rule by using the substantial resources of the Crown to influence individual members of the Whig majority in the House of Commons. A parliamentary faction known as “the King’s Friends” soon became powerful in the home government.
The Stamp Act
Burdened with a considerable war debt, the administration began stricter enforcement of the Navigation Acts restricting colonial trade with other nations. In addition, on the principle that the colonies ought to pay a share of the empire’s defense costs, Parliament in 1765 passed the The Stamp Act.
By this act no official documents, deeds, mortgages, newspapers, or pamphlets could be issued in the colonies unless they bore stamps issued and sold by the British government.
This provoked almost unanimous opposition among the colonists, who regarded it as taxation without representation in Parliament. On these grounds a storm of protest arose against the Stamp Act.
Troops were sent to Boston in 1768 but did not particularly frighten the populace. Originally numbering about 1000, under the command of Major General Thomas Gage, these troops were gradually reinforced to about 3500 by the spring of 1770. In March of that year, a riot occurred between Boston citizens, jeering and taunting the soldiers, and the British troops. The troops fired, killing five people. The so-called Boston Massacre aroused great colonial resentment.
Parliament repealed the The Stamp Act in 1770 but, to assert its right to tax the colonies, retained a small tax on tea. The colonists, however, refused to buy the English tea as a matter of principle. In Philadelphia and New York City they would not permit British ships to unload tea. In Boston, in the so-called Boston Tea Party, a group of citizens disguised as Indians swarmed over British ships in the harbor and dumped the cargoes of tea into the water.
The First Continental Congress
The Intolerable Acts secured for Massachusetts the indignant sympathy of all the colonies. The Virginia assembly sent out a call for a meeting of representatives from the 13 colonies and Canada to consider joint action against the encroachments of parliamentary power on colonial rights. The meeting, known as the The First Continental Congress, took place in Philadelphia in September 1774. The Congress urged the colonies not to carry on any trade with Britain until the Intolerable Acts were repealed.
Lexington and Concord
The first armed encounter of the American Revolution took place in the towns of Lexington and Concord. General Gage was aware that the militia members of the towns around Boston were being trained and organized into active elements known as minutemen.
On the night of April 18-19, 1775, Gage sent out 3 companies to seize munitions being gathered at Concord. The British found the militia assembling near Concord after having hidden most of the military supplies. Their attempt to seize one of the two bridges near the town was forestalled by an American counterattack and the “Red Coats” had to retreat under fire all the way back to Boston.
The Siege of Boston
Representatives of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775, to face the fact that the New England colonies had taken arms against the king’s troops. By unanimous vote appointed George Washington as commander in chief of the militia forces. That Washington, a Virginian, was being chosen to command an army then entirely composed of New England militia had little weight against the general confidence in his character as a man and his skill and experience as a soldier.
On July 3, 1775, Washington, having assumed command of the American forces with a total strength varying from 13,000 to 16,000, devoted his immediate efforts to training and reorganizing his army.
Having brought 59 heavy guns and mortars from Ticonderoga, Washington occupied Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston from the south, and began emplacing his newly arrived artillery there.
Not being up to a fight, on March 17 the British, embarked their ships and sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Blockade of Boston had been lifted…
See UNITED STATES HISTORY TIMELINE 1763 – 1791.
Read Account of a Declaration which tells us how our REPUBLIC was born.